19 June 2019

Salvini&Le Pen headline European nationalist rally

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Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, of the anti-immigrant League party, is staging a rally in Milan on Saturday for nationalists and far-right movements from 12 European countries in hopes to forge a united front ahead of next week's European parliamentary elections. reports citing Euronews.

“I think lots of things will change in Europe,” Salvini told Reuters on Friday, anticipating the EU elections will lead to a relaxation of budget rules and influencing the choice of the next central bank chief.

Headlining the event along with Salvini is Marine Le Pen of France's Islamophobic National Rally (RN). The two populists are eager for their Europe of Nations and Freedom (ENF) group to become the third largest party in Brussels.

The ENF also includes Austria's Freedom Party, Belgium's Vlaams Belang and the Netherlands' Party for Freedom, whose head Geert Wilders will be in Milan.

But despite their shared dislike of immigration and the EU, Europe's populists remain divided on many key issues on the continent, including budgetary discipline, migrant distribution and relations with Moscow.

Notably absent from the Saturday's rally is Hungary Prime Minister Viktor Orban's Fidesz party. Orban has publicly supported Salvini and promised "cooperation" after the vote, but refuses any form of alliance with Le Pen.

Poland's governing PiS (Law and Justice party) will also not be attending the rally, however, smaller parties such as Bulgaria's Volya and Slovakia's Sme Rodina, are expected in Milan.

Most of Europe's rightwing nationalists are currently divided into three blocs and a tangled web of alliances in the European Parliament, which Salvini and Le Pen would like to overhaul if not destroy.

Thousands of League supporters are expected to march towards Milan's Duomo (cathedral) square where leaders will make their speeches from 1430 GMT. Opposition protests are also expected in Milan on Saturday.

2019.05.18 / 18:08
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